Insights about trends and expectations regarding agriculture and rural economies will be the focus of the Rural Economic Outlook Conference taking place Oct. 17 on Oklahoma State University’s Stillwater campus.
The 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. conference will take place at the OSU ConocoPhillips Alumni Center, located on Hester Street across from the Student Union. Cost is $50 per participant if pre-registering through Oct. 10 and $75 thereafter. Online registration is available at agecon.okstate.edu.
“Think of the conference as ‘one-stop shopping’ in that we will be examining many key issues that may significantly affect decisions made by agricultural lenders, community and rural leaders, and people in similar positions during the coming year,” said Brent Ladd, OSU Cooperative Extension assistant agricultural finance specialist.
Keynote speakers will be Nathan Kauffman, an economist and vice president of the Omaha branch of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, and James MacDonald, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief of the USDA Economic Research Service’s Structure, Technology and Productivity branch.
“There are powerful movements toward consolidation throughout the food system, and toward high concentration with only a few buyers or sellers in many agribusiness markets,” MacDonald said. “Some consolidation follows from economies of scale and innovation, and can therefore be channeled into productivity growth. However, is some circumstances, high concentration can lead to reduced efficiency, reduced innovation and slower productivity growth.”
MacDonald will be leading conference participants through an assessment of consolidation in agriculture over the last three decades, and discussing current and future challenges posed by rising concentration in certain agribusiness markets.
Kauffman will showcase how recent economic factors are driving the economic outlook of the U.S. farm sector, implications for farm finances and key risks to monitor in the months ahead.
“Despite a strengthening U.S. economy, the agricultural sector has been mired in a prolonged downturn alongside persistently low commodity prices and elevated input costs,” he said. “Maintaining sufficient liquidity in the midst of cash flow shortages has remained a top priority for producers and lenders as interest rates also have begun to rise at a modest rate.”
Also featured will be OSU agricultural economists Dave Shideler, Amy Hagerman, Rodney Jones, Kim Anderson and Derrell Peel. Topics covered by the OSU experts will include the state of Oklahoma’s rural economy, federal and state changes in budgets and policy, agricultural finance areas of interest and overviews of the U.S. grain and livestock markets.
“We ask that participants pre-register if possible,” Ladd said. “It greatly aids the planning process and helps ensure sufficient numbers of meals, refreshments and conference materials are on hand. We want to make the conference as useful and enjoyable as possible to all participants.”
Anyone seeking additional information about the Oct. 17 Rural Economic Outlook Conference at OSU should contact Kareta Casey by phone at 405-744-9836.